The Supreme Court of South Carolina
RE: Charleston Housing Court Pilot Project
The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission has petitioned the Supreme Court of South Carolina to create a pilot program establishing a Housing Court in the County of Charleston Magistrate Court (hereinafter “Charleston Housing Court Pilot Project”) to create an eviction docket on specific days in three specific Magistrate Courts in Charleston County. There is significant need to provide access to legal representation to tenants in Charleston County facing eviction. Increased representation can ensure that the eviction is lawful, defenses are effectively asserted, and secure other relief that may help prevent homelessness.
Establishment of the Charleston Housing Court Pilot Project
Pursuant to the provisions of Article V, Section 4 of the South Carolina Constitution, it is ordered that a program be established in the County of Charleston Magistrate Courts creating a “Housing Court” for evictions properly filed and subject to jurisdiction and venue in North Area 1 Magistrate Court, North Area 3 Magistrate Court, and West Ashley Magistrate Court. In addition to their other duties as Magistrate Court Judges, The Honorable Amy J. Mikell, The Honorable Joanna Summey-Fuller, and The Honorable Ellen Steinberg shall be assigned to preside over the Charleston Housing Court.
The Charleston Housing Court Pilot Project will track data and metrics to determine the Pilot Project's rate of success. These metrics will include:
- number of tenants represented and by whom
- number of evictions filed
- number of hearings requested
- number of evictions that were settled or dismissed
- number of tenants provided financial support
- number of evictions averted by mediation, hearing, or financial support
- number of evictions with writs of ejectment issued
- comparison of number of evictions filed and the number of writs of ejectment in the three pilot project Magistrate Courts with the number of evictions of the other Magistrate Courts in Charleston County
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that participants in the Charleston Housing Court Pilot Project shall be screened and qualified based on criteria set forth by Charleston County Magistrate Courts in coordination with One80 Place Legal Services, Charleston Legal Access, Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services, South Carolina Legal Services, Charleston School of Law, 211 Hotline, and Trident Urban League. One80 Place Legal Services will be responsible for coordinating with the Charleston County Magistrate Courts and the other participating agencies to ensure that the Housing Court Pilot Project process is being followed and meeting the needs of tenants at risk of being evicted.
This Order is effective immediately and shall remain in effect unless rescinded or modified by future order of the Chief Justice.
s/Donald W. Beatty
Donald W. Beatty
Chief Justice of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
May 24, 2019